Ottoman documents show us that there was a special architectural institution
attached to the palace called the Hassa 'Mimarlar Ocagi (Imperial Body of
Architects). When this institution was created is not clear but we know it was
already in existence before 1525. It was linked to the sehremini (the person
then responsible for the financing, purchasing and administrative activities
related to construction works).' The Hassa Chief Architect was in charge of its
administration. The first chief architect is believed to have been Acem Alisi
(Alauddin). The chief architect was assisted by the water supply director, the
chief of apprentices, the chief limeworker, the warehouse director, the first
secretary of the warehouse, the first architect, the deputy architect, the
director of repairs, and many master architects, qualified builders, foremen and
artisans, as well as officers in charge of monitoring their activities. The
institution was in charge of practically everything related to the empire's
civil engineering, architecture and urban development activities: water supply,
sewer system, roads and pavements, building regulations, permits and control, as
well as fire prevention, the activities of architects, foremen and
superintendents and their wages, the standardisation of building materials and
their quality and price control. It was also in charge of designing, erecting,
maintaining and repairing buildings belonging to the Imperial family,
high-ranking state officials, and of appointing architects, foremen and
superintendents to those tasks. It was responsible for the construction of
bridges, forts and other military works in times of war. Finally, it functioned
as an educational institution, being in charge of the, further training of the
most promising youths among those recruited by the devsirme (levy of Christian
children for the janissary Corp and other State services).
Building projects were first developed as sketches or models, then submitted
to the palace together with their cost estimates. Before construction began,
someone was appointed responsible for the building, who would be in charge of
building materials and workers, and who would regularly note down the expenses
incurred. For important projects, the palace would be directly approached for
the procurement of material and staff. In the provinces, the kadis (who
functioned both as judge and mayor) would inform the palace of their building
requirements and the latter would then give orders to the chief architect. In
imperial buildings, young devsirme recruits, palace artisans (Ehl-i Hiref),
payed workers and foremasters worked along with prisoners of war and convicts.
Both Muslims and Christians could be employed. If necessary, architects would be
sent to different provinces and sometimes abroad. Muslim rulers in India are
known to have asked Ottoman Sultans to send them architects, and some of Sinan's
students were indeed sent there.
It is thought that the Imperial Body of Architects developed dramatically
during the time of Sinan when it was restructured in order to handle the then
frantic building activity. Provincial organisations attached to the palace or
functioning under its control are known to have existed. The institution lasted
for some 350 years, until it was integrated into the municipality in 1831.
Above text and pictures are from the book titled "Turkish Art and Architecture in Anatolia and Mimar Sinan".
You can purchase "Turkish Art and Architecture in Anatolia and Mimar Sinan" book and other Turkey related books from Explore Turkey Bookstore.